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Suicide and internalised relationships: A study from the perspective of psychotherapists working with suicidal patients


A study was conducted into the personal meanings of suicide. It is recognised that early experiences of relationships can have a bearing upon a later tendency towards suicide. This project investigated the representations which these relationships take on within the person’s inner world and their effect upon the person’s behaviour. One hundred psychotherapists were surveyed, by means of a postal questionnaire, regarding their work with suicidal patients. Five follow-up interviews were conducted. The main themes that emerged in the patients ’ relationships were rejection, invasion and engulfment. These were experienced as forms of abandonment. Incidents involving loss or rejection in the patients’ present life were found to re-activate these earlier relationships.

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